By Karen Bong
KUCHING, April 23: Food and beverage (F&B) operators are not allowed to operate beyond 8pm during the Ramadan month in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah as the current standard operating procedure (SOP) enforced for the Movement Control Order (MCO) will be maintained.
Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob emphasised this when responding to a question whether there would be changes in the operation hours for food operators during the Ramadan month, which is expected to start tomorrow (April 24), following the Sarawak government’s decision to allow food traders to operate between 3pm to 10pm.
“The current SOP will be maintained because we are trying to restrict the movement of people throughout the country.
“An increase in movement of people can lead to difficulties in ensuring compliance and enforcement,” he told a daily press conference to provide updates on the MCO in Putrajaya today.
If given an additional two hours for operation, Ismail Sabri was concerned that many people would use the excuse to buy food just to go out.
“We can imagine the number of people who would go out within that two hours (8pm to 10pm) and this will complicate the police enforcement at roadblocks due to the excuse to buy food.
“So we will stick with the operating hours (enforced for MCO) and those who want to buy food for ‘sahur’ (pre-dawn meal) can do so earlier,” he added.
Meanwhile, State Disaster Management Committee chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas announced yesterday (April 22) hotels, restaurants and fast-food chains were allowed to operate between 3pm to 10pm during the Ramadan month.
He added that home-based petty traders were also allowed to do so but only confined strictly to their house compounds.
Conversely, bazaars and congregated stalls cannot be set up while food trucks are not allowed to do business during the Ramadan period.
Meanwhile, Ismail Sabri explained that the SOP enforced in MCO for phase one, two and certain parts of phase three will be applied for the Ramadan month, except for public transport and wet market operation hours which will be extended.
“Before this, public transportation is allowed to operate from 5pm to 10pm. During the Ramadan month, it will be allowed an extra hour from 4pm to 10pm considering the usual practice where civil officers are allowed to go back earlier than normal days.
“This also applies to markets to enable people to buy food and ingredients to prepare for the breaking of fast meals. Before this, markets are allowed until 12pm and it will be extended until 2pm during Ramadan month,” he added. — DayakDaily